Diablo Immortal includes several hidden progression caps that deliberately limit the amount of items players can obtain through the free-to-play portion of the game, apparently encouraging them to spend real money.
The hidden caps were discovered by YouTuber and Diablo aficionado Immortal Echohack, who described his findings in a 15 minute video (opens in new tab) (thanks, Forbes (opens in new tab)). While the game makes no explicit mention of these loot caps, Echohack was able to identify seven limits on its extended time with the game, including reduced items and gem drops.
They said that side quests, purple bosses, and random map events stop giving players loot rewards after they complete the first five a day. Likewise, the drop rate of Legendary items significantly reduces after your sixth Legendary drop of the day, as does the gem drop rate bonus given to players who participated in a party of four.
Additionally, players can only unlock five Zoltan Kule treasure rooms per day. Hidden Lairs also only reward a maximum of six gems per day, regardless of how many random dungeons you complete.
Echohack would have been able to uncover these hidden covers after “an enormous amount of gameplay and testing”, with their findings based entirely on observations made by them and their friends. While some of the limits are difficult to verify, others – such as the side quest rewards limit – can be measured more easily.
Fundamentally, these limits are not carried over in the main game. Players can reach the maximum rewards caps without knowing it, not realizing that the marginal benefit of their grinding has been drastically reduced. They throw intangible obstacles against players, who must keep track of what rewards they’ve earned in a day or face a challenge with no reward at the end.
Free problems to play
Also, it appears that no similar caps apply to paid elements of Diablo Immortal. The game does not operate a loot box system per se, but offers Elder Rifts that serve a similar function. These short dungeons provide rewards to players, but must be unlocked by spending Crests (keys that can be found in-game or purchased with cash).
As Forbes points out, there appear to be no limitations on the number of shields a player can buy or rifts they can enter. You are free to purchase as many Legendary Emblems as you like and use them to enter as many rifts as you can, gaining valuable gear and items as you do so. Consequently, while players enjoying the free-to-play side of Diablo Immortal face deliberately reduced drop rates and penalties, those willing to spend real-world money can get around the limitations.
Echohack says the system sends a very clear message: players who spend money on Diablo Immortal have a big advantage, while those who want to enjoy the game for free are often unable to progress their character despite hours of grinding.
Some Diablo Immortal players have suggested that limits are imposed to fight bots, but Echohack considers the limits to be so strict that they detract from Diablo Immortal’s core game design. “In a game that’s supposed to be about shredding and killing monsters, what’s the point if everything you do is so aggressively limited?” they said.
Casual gamers who only play Diablo Immortal in short sessions every day are unlikely to hit these soft limits, but more enthusiastic players hoping to get into the game for a few hours might find themselves bumping into the limits. This will do nothing to improve the game’s standing among a Diablo community already wary of predatory monetization practices.